Caroline Bithell

Telling a Tree by its Blossom: 
Aspects of the Evolution of Musical Activity in Corsica and the Notion of a Traditional Music of the Twenty-First Century

This article attempts to document aspects of an important period in the development of semi-professional and professional musical activity in Corsica, with particular reference to the debate regarding tradition‚ and creation‚ which has preoccupied many Corsican musicians throughout the past decade as they have sought to negotiate and rationalize a marriage of traditional and contemporary elements in their own compositions.  The paper includes analyses of representative songs from some of the most celebrated discs of the early 1990s and draws on later interviews with members of these and other groups in which they reflect on this stage in their careers in a way that encapsulates many of the sentiments, values and motivations central to the thinking of the time.


  1. Introduction
  2. Aspects of ‘group’ activity in Corsica
  3. The groups and their perceived relationship to ‘the tradition’
  4. Achieving a marriage between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘contemporary’
  5. The technique in practice: examples of new compositions
  6. The broader implications of creative evolution
  7. Conclusion
  8. Endnotes
  9. References
  10. Sources

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